Independent retailers versus corporation retailers, the profit motive versus the personal connect

Besides the obvious differences of size (buying power, advertising power, network-wide range control etc.) corporation retailers are different to independent retailers in one key aspect.

Corporation retailers have a legal obligation to maximize shareholder return whereas independent retailers, those wholly owned by an individual or a family, have obligations to themselves which often are not related to a profit at all costs mentality.

While both corporation and independent retailers have to operate within the laws of the lad there is no obligation on them to serve the community, respect culture or add value in any other way. Indeed, one could reasonably argue that non profit focused efforts of corporation retailers are outside the obligation they have to shareholders.

These giant corporate chains do not and cannot have the same community connect, the same soul, of an independent retailer. Whereas one beats with an artificial heart akin to a factory and is driven by dollars, the other beats with a heart of living cells and is fuelled by blood.

The more our shopping malls and high streets are inhabited by national and international corporate stores the weaker our Australian voice and culture.

This is the risk our small country faces. This is the damage done by the government embracing competition so wholeheartedly.

Whereas a pharmacist will know his/her customers and often offer personal assistance or some additional service, a pharmacist behind the counter in a giant supermarket is less likely to. Everything the pharmacist in a supermarket does must be about profit whereas in the local independently owned pharmacy it is more likely to be about care for the customer.

I accept that in every business there is a profit motive. However, in an independent retail business there is also an unmistakable human factor which provides for a personal connect and decisions based on emotional factors. The person making the decisions, the owner of the business, accepts personal responsibility whereas in the corporate retail business personal accountability is less of a factor is existent at all.

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